Volunteering boom as numbers rise

Recruits hoping to improve skills in a turbulent job market, says YouthNet

The number of people showing an interest in volunteering has increased significantly since last year, figures from volunteering organisations show.

Volunteering charity YouthNet has seen the number of people applying to its schemes double over the past year.

The organisation, whose website www.do-it.org.uk matches volunteers of all ages with volunteering opportunities, received more than 40,000 applications in February 2009 – twice as many as in February 2008, it announced this week.

A study by the Institute of Volunteering Research, a Volunteering England venture, has also reported a significant rise in applications to volunteer. It said 87 per cent of local volunteer centres had seen more enquiries about volunteering during the past six months than in the same period last year.

The report said 72 per cent of volunteer centres planned to start offering back-to-work training alongside volunteering opportunities.

Fiona Dawe, chief executive of YouthNet, said the increase in volunteering was due to rising unemployment. "More people are recognising volunteering as a valuable way to improve employment chances in a turbulent job market," she said.

"Volunteering is becoming more accessible and attitudes towards it are changing."

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